There was a French fort nearby in the early 18th cent., and the Spanish established Fort Nogales in 1791. The area came into U.S. possession in 1798. Vicksburg became a busy river port, and in the Civil War it was a major objective in Grant's Vicksburg campaign. The city fell July 4, 1863, after 14 months of naval shelling, 7 months of land assault, and 47 days of total siege. River traffic, which fell off greatly in the late 19th and early 20th cent., has been aided by the U.S. Mississippi River Commission, whose headquarters are at Vicksburg. Nearby is the U.S. Waterways Experiment Station. Sections of the city were flooded in Apr., 1973.
Antebellum homes are in the city and the surrounding area. In Vicksburg National Military Park (see National Parks and Monuments, table) are preserved trenches and fortifications of the Civil War siege. North of the city is a national cemetery containing Civil War dead, including c.13,000 unknown Union soldiers brought from temporary burial places all over the South.